StyleNest chat to interior designer, Sophie Ashby and talk London, life and interior trends.
Describe your style in one sentence?
Eclectic, honest, quirky with a real mix of old and new within a natural palette.
When did you first know you wanted to be a part of the world of interiors?
Luckily from a young age, I think I was 19.
What celebrity home would you most love to style?
I would love to design a home for Tilda Swinton; based on her sense of style and choice of movies, I think she has exquisite taste. I would like to think we have a similar aesthetic.
What is your favourite room of the house?
The sitting room, it’s space to relax and unwind. My sofa is huge and so comfy.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I would say art and nature in equal measure.
What advice would you give our readers who are decorating their first home?
Trust your gut instinct and fill your home with things you love; your home should be an extension of your own quirks and passions. Don’t try to make it anything too perfect, character and personality emerges from a bit of chaos!
What’s the best way to get a designer home on a budget?
Use paint and plants to create atmosphere and drama. Painting a room a stunning colour is one of the cheapest ways to transform the feel of a space. One of my favourite colours is Panel by Paint & Paper Library, pair that with a few palms and succulents are you’re halfway there.
What’s the best way to update an old piece of furniture?
Combine it with contemporary art and modern lighting. A beautiful old Empire chest of drawers for example looks amazing with a bold Modernist lamp and a colourful contemporary piece of art hanging above it. It’s the blend of old and new that feels fresh to me.
What interior trends will we see emerging this season?
Splicing. New aggregates and terrazzos. Hand crafted everything.
When you’re not busy working, what do you do to unwind and relax?
The perfect relaxing day would involve a long walk through Hyde Park with my boyfriend Charlie, then onto a gallery, followed by a nice indulgent lunch, topped off with a Hitchcock film on the sofa.
You live with your boyfriend, Charlie Casey-Hayford in Notting Hill. Where are some of your favourite spots to eat/drink/shop in London?
There are some great Italian restaurants off Portobello road like Osteria Basilico and Mediterraneo; we are a bit obsessed with Italy and Italian food. I love going for a drink in the Electric on a Friday night, it’s always really buzzy. My favourite shop is Merchant Archive, the designer Sophie Merchant make beautiful, hugely covetable clothes and accessories, I always want everything in there.
Can you clue our readers in on any exciting projects you may be working on?
We have some great projects completing next year; we are working on a beautiful London townhouse for a young Italian family, it’s a total renovation job so it will be very rewarding to see all our ideas and hard work come to fruition. We are also working on a restaurant called Ikoyi which should open in the New Year in Mayfair; it is a Nigerian restaurant and the dishes are delicious, all inspired by Nigerian flavours and ingredients. We have also been working on the actress Gabriella Wilde’s house in Bruton, Somerset which will finish next Spring; it’s a beautiful, rambling country house looking onto rolling hills. It’s very tranquil and we have designed a bespoke kitchen with her which I can’t wait to see finished.
You are currently designing a capsule collection of fabrics and wallpapers with Fromental. Can you tell our readers a little more about this?
Next year we launch the range of fabrics and wallpapers we have designed in collaboration with Fromental; inspired by my time in Africa, more specifically the African bushveld. The collection is formed by earth tones, nature and traditional patterns of South Africa. One of the most powerful and memorable things about Africa is the scale of the sky and we have two designs based on this, which we are really excited about.
You are half South African. Has this influenced your style?
Yes definitely, in so many ways. The colours, the patterns, the textures, the culture – it’s a country that feeds the soul and makes you feel very alive.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Probably my Mum, she has given me the confidence to think that anything is possible.
What’s your motto?
Something along the lines of don’t sweat the small stuff and treasure what you have.
Any style faux pas?
Don’t fake anything. Authenticity is everything.